Anime Review: Bibliophile Princess

As a love story, it’s… well, it’s ok. As a quasi-historical drama, it leaves much to be desired. As a simple, calm, sedate little story, it shines.

Bibliophile Princess is named for its lead character, Elianna Bernstein, a lovely, young noblewoman who inherited her family’s deep love of books, with all the knowledge they contain. She is betrothed to Christopher, the crown prince of Sauslind, which is something like Austria sometime shortly after the Renaissance. Christopher, for his part, fell for Eli while they were still children, courtesy of her quiet but fiery spirit, her wealth of knowledge, and her deep, kind compassion. It took a bit of work to get her to fall for him in return, but he made significant headway when he offered her access to the entire royal library. (Heh, he definitely knew what bait to use!)

There are, of course, a number of forces which strive to pry them apart, to see Eli cast aside and usurp her position in proximity to the throne, but these figures get a bit more than they bargained for when messing with these two lovebirds. Not only are Christopher and his parents quite shrewd, as is her own family, but Eli’s hard work, dedication, and the surprising love she has for her people earn her loyal friends and protectors at every turn. She might not be politically savvy, but she is young and has time to learn how to navigate the hazards of court life. Indeed, her biggest weakness is only how much she doubts herself. She is, after all, merely a lover of books, and hardly realizes just how much good she does for those around her.

Which makes it understandable but slightly annoying when her first reflex is to give in to her doubts and give up on what she truly wants. She is very prone to reading various small signs as proof that she’s being cast aside, and she doesn’t fight for what she wants even as her heart breaks. Heck, she can’t even hold her resolve against a little girl, at least not when she’s alone, let alone when she’s facing a swarm of gossiping, opportunistic vultures. What really frustrated me was when she could have simply talked to Christopher and cleared up a confusion that was stirring up all of her self-doubts, and instead she fled from him. One would think that she could have trusted him, at least, even if she was doubting herself.

And yet, every misunderstanding, and every plot against her, and every threat to her person was solved quickly and simply. It comes, it’s quickly built up, and it is dispelled with a wave of the hand. Even when things turn briefly violent, as assassins come for Eli’s life, they are quickly repelled with ease, without one injury taken by her protectors and not one drop of blood shown on the screen. There was more time and significance given to explaining the various intrigues at work than there was to the actual dangers involved. Physical violence was treated as something beneath one’s notice.

On which note, I was also a little annoyed by how everything to do with the military was portrayed in a negative light. The military itself was never really shown, but every mention of it was in relation to some noble’s plot because Eli’s influence was one of peace and love and this automatically undermined both the military and the nobles whose fortunes were connected to it. Yes, war is a terrible thing, but diminishing the army does not solve the problem. In the real world, that sort of thing would basically be like Eli and Christopher begging to be invaded, conquered, and executed.

And I find that I really do like this central couple. They were cute together, especially Eli in all of her dresses, and the story of their love was very nice and wholesome. They didn’t get to do very much kissing – this being anime, where things tend to be either entirely chaste or entirely not, with very little range between the two, and this one went very much for the former – which was something of a shame, because they were really, really good together. So, naturally, everything to do with royal life tries to keep them occupied and apart from each other, haha.

Hmmm, there’s not really that much else to say about Bibliophile Princess. It’s a fairly calm, quiet story, where excitement comes and goes with little fanfare, though there is quite a lot of fanfare surrounding moments of intrigue which are quickly resolved. One could say it simply tells its story, shows us who these royals are as people, and that’s it. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. It’s all right. I enjoyed it, and I imagine others can enjoy it, though it won’t be among my favorites.

Rating: 7 stars out of 10.

Grade: C-Plus.

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